Help, please: hand push engraving

itm

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Thread starter #1
Hello.

I am trying to learn hand push engraving from the book of James B. Meek “The art of Engraving”. I purchased some gravers (picture attached) for practicing and I’m engraving on a piece of brass plate. I sharpened the gravers exactly as described in the book and I looked at tutorials on the internet about sharpening, but the graver won’t cut the metal. It just makes scratches at the most. I tried different angles for the face but it won’t cut. I don’t know if the gravers aren’t suitable for this kind of engraving style or there’re some other problems I am not aware of. I hope you can help me and give me some advice on how to engrave by hand.

Thank you for any help.

gravers.jpg
 

Roger B

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#2
itm,

If the gravers are sharpened properly they should work well but the big word here is "if". Sharpening is a skill in itself and each engraver will have personal angles he or she likes.

As for tips have you checked out the Tips forum - look for Manual Engraving - there are 3 posts there but if you look further into the threads you will find more. from memory some detail the comparison of the length of heels between gravers used for push and those used in air powered tools. I don't know where you are based but the best suggestion if you want to down the path of push engraving would be to take a class or two - but be aware that it could be a long learning curve.

Good luck,
Roger
 

itm

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Thread starter #4
Thank you for the replies.
I live in Israel, Jerusalem. If someone know of a teacher nearby I'll be grateful.
 

Crazy Horse

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Thank you for the replies.
I live in Israel, Jerusalem. If someone know of a teacher nearby I'll be grateful.
There should, (must) be a jeweler somewhere in Jerusalem. I would seek him out and ask him for a few minutes of his time to show you some of his push tools and maybe give you some advice on how to sharpen.

There is NO absolute method of sharpening for push engraving. There are "standards" that give you a starting point, but humans have many variables and it all comes down to trial and error.

Once you can sharpen a tool properly and get it to cut the adventure begins. After that, ......practice, practice, practice.

I would start with an onglet (Fish Belly) tool first, as it's probably the easiest to sharpen correctley...as per James Meeks directions.
 

itm

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Thank you for trying to help me, Crazy Horse.
(I tried to find a teacher in the past but I couldn't find one. There was a very skillful engraver and a teacher in Jerusalem who had learnt engraving in Europe but when I contacted him he told me that he's very sick and doesn't teach anymore. just my luck...)
 

Roger Bleile

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#7
ITM,

First off, brass can be really difficult to hand push depending on if it is cast, rolled, or forged. Schools that taught hand engraving use rolled sheet copper for beginners to work on. I actually would prefer to push a burin in mild steel rather than brass. Most hand engravers who do exclusively push engraving work in silver, gold, or pewter.

Next, with all due respect to James B. Meek, I could never understand sharpening the way Meek explains it. I thought I was just too dense to get it. Years later, many other engravers told me the same thing. I believe that Sam Alfano has instructions on sharpening manual tools. Also if you are going to be a self taught hand engraver, the best instructional manual is Engraving Historic Firearms by John Schippers. Don't let the title put you off. If you follow John's instructions you can engrave anything and he has very clear instructions for sharpening burins and chisels. The book is available from our guild here: http://www.fega.com/prodserv/Books1.asp?recidparam=377

Third, there is nothing wrong with the gravers that you have purchased. Properly sharpened, they will all work well. That said, many of us do the vast majority of our work with a square graver which can be sharpened in a variety of ways. For hand pushing, the onglette (also known as a "point" or "spitzer") works well. Your flat gravers have some use in lettering and wriggle cuts. The rest are very specialized and you may not use them until you are much more advanced.

Lastly, visit www.engravingglossary.com to learn the terminology and use of all the different tools and styles of design we use.

Unfortunately, I don't know of any hand engravers in Israel but that doesn't mean there aren't any. I am mostly connected with gun engravers around the world and I don't expect there is much demand for that skill in your country. There must, however be some jewelry engravers there, especially if there is a diamond market area of one of the larger cities.

There are quite a number of folks who live in an area of the world where there are no hand engravers but with dedication and persistence they have become excellent by following this forum, asking questions, then applying what they have learned here.

Good luck to you.
בהצלחה לך
 

jerrywh

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#8
Almost all new engravers do not know what hand push engraving really is and they are trying to do heavier work by hand push. Most all hand push engraving is very light like bank note style. A different book may help you some. try the book. The Jewelry engravers manual or Engraving on precious metals. I'm no expert at this but I do some.
 

itm

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Thread starter #9
Thank you Roger for the detailed answer. The book you recommended is very expensive for me and I don't want to invest a lot of money as a beginner, so I'll try first the book jerrywh recommended first (Thanks jerrywh).

You mentioned that brass is difficult to hand push. Is it preferred to work with hammer and chisel on brass or hand push engraving is also possible on brass?
 

monk

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#12
by all means-- learn the basics using copper. as mentioned, push graving is for light, delicate, and shallow work. for more bold work, hammer and chisel would go well in your bag of tricks. i might ask, how are your drawing skills? good drawing and design concepts are the foundation of all good engraving. good luck to you
 

sam

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#13
Read the Ken Hunt thread at the top of the forum. It contains instruction on sharpening hand gravers. Others have given you good advice. Keep us posted :chip:
 

itm

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Thread starter #14
Thank you all for your help and patience.
Just one last question. If I want to engrave simple lines like in the picture attached, do I need to use H&C or it also can be done by hand engraving?
54494.jpg
 

Roger Bleile

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#15
You could hand push the work on that piece. The fleur de lis and grapes were done with a stamp but could be engraved. the zig-zag pattern (known as "wriggle tooling") was done by walking a flat graver side to side.
 

itm

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Thank you Roger.
I'll take all this information and try again.
This is a great forum and your help isn't taken for granted.
Many thanks, you really helped me.
 

gcleaker

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#17
Thank you for trying to help me, Crazy Horse.
(I tried to find a teacher in the past but I couldn't find one. There was a very skillful engraver and a teacher in Jerusalem who had learnt engraving in Europe but when I contacted him he told me that he's very sick and doesn't teach anymore. just my luck...)
If at first you do not succeed try, try again. So, look for another engraver. You might reread that chapter you may have missed something, yes Mr. obvious here but I have to do this all the time. Like when is my anniversary ?? holy cow august 2nd now I am needing help.
Skill comes from diligence.
 

silverchip

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#19
You should start with copper for a practice medium and expand from there. Check out The Jewelery Engravers Manual By R. Allen Hardy and Engraving on Precious Metals by A. Brittain,S. Wolpert And P. Morton. These are rather dated books but good help none the less. Keep in mind that while using muscle power for engraving it takes some time to develop control and memory. Learning how to maintain your tool hand like a tool post on a lathe and pulling or pushing the rotation of the ball for horsepower is a tip.
 

itm

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Thread starter #20
There used to be a comprehensive tutorial on DVD by Heinar Tamme. Unfortunately it's not available anymore :rolleyes:
 

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